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I just got back from two weeks of alpine climbing in the Bugaboos, and my hips are still sore from the 70 pound pack that I humped the 3000 vertical feet from the trailhead to Applebee camp and back.  We all know how much weight matters in the mountains; that's one of the reasons why I'm in love with my new superlight Salomon mountaineering footwear, the S-LAB X Alp Carbon GTX.

I pretty much lived in the X Alps for these last two weeks, and I was continually impressed with their comfort and performance - not to mention grateful for how wonderfully light they are at just under 18oz. 

Where I see room for improvement: 

  • Most Salomon trail runners have a keeper pocket (garage) for or the Quicklace closure on top of the tongue; the X Alp does not have this feature, presumably because the gaitor makes it superfluous; that said, there were numerous occasions when I wore the boot with the gaitor unzipped and rolled over, and I would have appreciated a dedicated place to tuck in the Quicklace to avoid getting caught on rocks and branches.
    (**Update from previewing the new X Alp GTX 2: it features a Quicklace garage!)
  • Another challenge with the Quicklace closure: I noticed it would work itself a bit lose after prolonged crampon use. Not a big deal because the zipped up gaitor still provided plenty of backup stability, but it's a noticeable performance difference to how the Quicklace closure works on trails. 
  • Finish: after ~20 days of intense use, the boots are overall still in very good shape (including the soles, which I was happy to see are barely showing any abrasion) but the side seams of one of the tongues is beginning to dissolve. 

 

What I loved: 

  • It's the lightest, most comfortable mountain boot I've worn. The inner low-top shoe feels as comfortable as the Speedcross (my favorite Salomon trailrunner), and the weight speaks for itself. 
  • The X Alp GTX climbs like a pro. I covered a lot of 4th and easy 5th class terrain in these boots, and managed to get them to slip only once: on a wet lichen-covered slab. The Contagrip sole is excellent. 
  • The boots are waterproof thanks to the built-in goretex mini gaitors. Coming back from long alpine routes late in the day, I was often slogging through wet snow and slush (add the occasional stream crossing, too).  Throughout all of it, my feet stayed dry and warm. 
  • Good crampon compatibility. My Salewa Alunal semi-step crampons worked like a charm; I only had one of them come lose a single time over the course of two weeks. 
  • The Quicklace easy-cinching closure is awesome - I know and love the system from many of Salomon's trail runners, and appreciate having it on the boots; no fiddling with laces while wearing gloves.

All in all, I was highly impressed with the X Alp Carbon GTX and am excited to have this boot in my quiver for three season mountaineering.  I wouldn't use the X Alp for super cold temperatures (like my upcoming return to Aconcagua this winter) or sustained steep ice as I would want more rigidity for that, but for three-season mountaineering through variable moderate terrain this boot is the ultimate footwear.  

***AUG 5 UPDATE: the S-LAB X Alp GTX 2 is coming!

I just had the opportunity to check out the new and improved 2017 X Alp GTX 2 at Outdoor Retailer. It now has a Quicklace garage! Other updates include a slightly asymmetrical zipper on the bootie to improve flexibility, a slightly larger tongue, and a new black & blue design rather than the old black & white.  

 Soloing low 5th class terrain on approach to the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, one of the 50 Classic Climbs. 

Soloing low 5th class terrain on approach to the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, one of the 50 Classic Climbs.